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The Early Word: New Books for the Week of June 22, 2009

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Apropos to nothing – mostly because the book is a paperback that comes out in September and so has nothing to do with this week’s list – but the best title I’ve come across lately is a Charlaine Harris novel: Must Love Hellhounds. Now I must fly you to the Moon and more summer fiction…

Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon
by Buzz Aldrin, Ken Abraham

“No the Moon ain’t romantic, it’s intimidating as hell,” Tom Waits once, um, crooned. Though the unsentimental and matter-of fact style of Buzz Aldrin may predominate the otherwise candid and involving memoir Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, it really serves to mitigate the intimidating scientific aspects of the Moon Photobucketmore than it celebrates the magic and the myth of the “magnificent desolation” – as Aldrin called it upon his exploration as the second man to walk on the Moon, minutes after Neil Armstrong. For Aldrin, though, life after the historic mission proved to be a rough landing. His desire to command the Air Force Academy was squelched when someone else was chosen, and, with such a glut of astronauts existing, he was unable to return to the Moon. Rudderless and rundown, a once ambitious, motivated man who had achieved his greatest ambition at the age of 39, Aldrin retired. But over the next decade depression and alcoholism had him in a trap, putting an end to his marriage and curbing his efforts to build a new career – Aldrin even found himself selling cars for a living when he wasn’t drunkenly wrecking them.  Aldrin stumbles when recovery doesn't completely eliminate life's hurdles or the debilitating depression that still occasionally overtakes him.

Redemption came when he finally embraced sobriety, won the love of his life, Lois, and today, closing in on 80, devoted himself to being an active public figure working to re-energize America's space program. It's an endeavor constituting a rallying cry to set our course for Mars and beyond, and comprising, in Magnificent Desolation, a comprehensive, cohesive, and incisive chronicle of self-destruction and self-renewal in The Long Journey Home from the Moon.


The Elements of Story: Field Notes on Nonfiction Writing
by Francis Flaherty


by Dick Morris, Eileen McGann

Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love, and Death in the Kitchen
by Jason Sheehan

Master of War: Blackwater USA's Erik Prince and the Business of War
by Suzanne Simons

Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France
by Michael Steinbergerby Michael Steinberger

Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification
by David Waldstreicher


The Fixer Upper
by Mary Kay Andrews, Mary K. Andrews

The Lace Makers of Glenmara
by Heather Barbieri

The Embers
by Hyatt Bass

Sworn to Silence
by Linda Castillo

Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum Series #15)
by Janet Evanovich

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Omen
by Christie Golden

by Faye Kellerman, Aliza Kellerman

Take Two
by Karen Kingsbury

Let the Great World Spin
by Colum McCann

The Doomsday Key (Sigma Force Series #6)
by James Rollins

Summer House
by Nancy Thayer

The Wedding Girl 0312383436
by Madeleine Wickham

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • Hi

    You know, Buzz Aldrin is probably one of the few people in this world who have been real players in a fantasy story. It is a sobering thought that such an experience (which we think nothing of making the norm our fantasy story characters) can provide such important lessons for us all. Fantasy writers might take note that their characters should have real feelings, real emotions, real human relations – sure you can create out of this world situations, but heros need to have hearts and minds with which we can identify.

    I treid to make this so in my new book – Randolph’s Challenge, Book One – The Pendulum Swings. There’s a lot of Buzz in my book and will be more of him in the next two that make up the trilogy.

    Chris Warren